Wednesday, August 1, 2012

St Alphonsus Liguori

Saint Alphonsus Liguori was born in 1696 in Marianella, in the Kingdom of Naples, the first born of seven belonging to the Neapolitan nobility. Liguori went to law school at age sixteen, becoming a very well-known lawyer. He was thinking of leaving the profession, when at age 27, after having lost an important case, he made up a resolution to leave the profession of lawyer. He wrote to someone, “Our profession is too full of difficulties and dangers; we lead an unhappy life and run the risk of dying an unhappy death. For myself, I will quit this career.”
In 1723, after a long process of discernment, he abandoned his legal career and, despite his father's strong opposition, began his seminary studies in preparation for the priesthood in the Oratory of St Philip Neri. He was ordained a priest in 1726, at the age of 30. He lived his first years as a priest with the homeless and marginalized youth of Naples. He founded the "Evening Chapels". Run by the young people themselves, these chapels were centers of prayer, education, community, and social activities. At the time of his death, there were 72 of these chapels with over 10,000 active participants. His sermons were very effective at converting sinners. He had a special closeness to the much poorer and abandoned street children in Naples, known as scugnizzi. 

In 1732 Alphonsus founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, (Redemptorists) when a nun named Sister Maria Celeste Castarosa told him that it was revealed to her that he was the one God have chosen to create the Congregation. This order's goal was to teach and preach in the slums of cities and other poor places. They also fought Jansenism, a heresy prevalent at his time. He gave himself entirely to this new mission. Sister Castarosa later founded the Redemptorist order of Nuns.
Alphonsus was consecrated bishop of the diocese of Sant' Agata dei Goti in 1762. He tried to refuse the appointment because he felt too old and too sick to properly care for the diocese. During this time he wrote sermons, books, and articles to encourage the devotion of the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1775 he was allowed to retire from his office and went to live in the Redemptorist community in Pagani, Italy where he died on August 1, 1787. He was canonized in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI, proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871 by Pope Pius IX. He was named Patron of Confessors and Moralists by Pope Pius XII in 1950, who also wrote an encyclical on him. Redemptorists today number over 5,800 world-wide.

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